Jason Liebig
Jason Liebig

15 Not-So-Delicious Candy Gimmicks

Jason Liebig
Jason Liebig

Competition for shelf space is fierce in the candy industry, where only the sweetest survive. Trying to capture the attention of children—a notoriously discriminating, albeit nose-picking crowd—has led to some creative, curious, and downright bizarre confections and promotions.

To help navigate this foil-wrapped underworld, we turned to Jason Liebig, candy authority and operator of CollectingCandy.com, home to thousands of archived treats. Check out these 15 candies that dared to be different.   

1. Cadbury Wriggler

While Cadbury was famously preoccupied with Easter in the U.S., its New Zealand division had other ideas: fruit-flavored “jelly worms” pockmarked this chocolate treat in the 1990s. In a strange case of life imitating bar, the BBC reported in 2003 that Cadbury’s India arm had come under fire after consumers alleged they found live insects in one of their products.   

2. Goofy Groceries

The Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corporation knew the gum market was a merciless territory, which is why they placed an emphasis on wacky packaging. Their Goofy Groceries line from the late 1970s consisted of parody boxes of popular supermarket items, including Hamburger Helper (above), Ritz and Tide.

3. Giant Boss Bubble Gum

Another brainstorm from Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corp., this ad from September 1969 introduced kids to the grown-up world of TMJ syndrome. “Giant bubble gum sticks were produced by a number of companies around this time,” Liebig says, “though this may have been one of the biggest.”

4. Space Dust

This spin-off of General Foods’ own Pop Rocks was powdered rather than granulated and proved to be a popular target for candy bootleggers who sold it outside of the company’s test markets in the late 1970s. Criticized by parents for being nutritionally bankrupt even by candy standards, the product hit a snag after the company discovered “space dust” was slang for the dangerous street drug PCP, a.k.a. "angel dust." They later changed the name to Cosmic Candy.

5. Boston Baked Beans

Not a bean and not made in Boston, these treats from Leaf were actually peanuts wrapped in a candy coating. You can still find them today from the fine people at Ferrara, though the little legume getting a suntan appears to have retired.

6. Quicksand Bubble Gum

Via some kind of chemical reaction we didn’t learn about in school, Fleer’s Quicksand was powdered bubble gum that congealed when it got wet. The novelty was popular enough to last from the 1960s to the 1980s, though it never worked quite as advertised. “To my recollection, you never got as much chewing out of it as you'd hope,” Liebig says. “A lot of powder turned into a relatively small gob of gum.”

7. Wonkalate Bar with Nerds

Once again, it’s foreign markets that have all the fun. Nestle introduced this Frankenstein creation in 2000, blending a purple chocolate base with “snozzberry” flavored Nerds candy. Resembling a lump of Technicolor vomit, the Wonkalate quietly slid off shelves after a six-figure ad campaign.

8. Kojak Pops

Who loves ya, baby? Certainly not your oral hygienist if you overindulged on these lollipops endorsed by Telly Savalas’ iconic ‘70s television detective. Manufactured by Four Star Candy for Universal, the pops were flat, not bulb-shaped, and joined the show’s merchandising efforts which included a board game and a dapper action figure.  

9. Crackheads

“Yeah, Crackheads was real,” Liebig says. “It was only really distributed to candy specialty stores as well as places like Spencer Gifts.”  The energy treats are still being sold and boast as much caffeine as six cups of coffee. If you like the idea of never sleeping again but find the packaging offensive, manufacturer Osmanium offers the same product under the name Jitterbeans.

10. The Charleston Chew Pony Contest

You wanna move some candy? You’d better be prepared to give away some livestock. In the 1970s, Charleston Chew held a contest in which entrants could send in their wrappers for a chance to win an actual pony, “or a horse if you prefer.” Earlier, the candy bar made a similar offer for a live monkey that came already dressed.

11. Willy Wonka’s Watermelon

Whether Willy Wonka specified this oversized jawbreaker was “seedless” as a joke or legal obligation is lost to history. Sold in “crate” packaging and able to change color from green to white to red like the real thing, the Wonka Watermelon stuck around for a good chunk of the '80s.

12. Dip-It Lock and Key

When a new candy takes off, it’s likely to spawn lots of imitators. After Fun Dip mania seized the nation, Topps released Dip-It, a combination lock-and-key novelty that allowed sugar fiends to use a key to scoop candy from the padlock. “I recall the key was edible,” Liebig says. We’re pretty sure he’d remember if it wasn’t.

13. Big League Plug

Big League Chew, which used shredded gum to mimic chewing tobacco, was popular enough in the 1980s that the company branched out to the chocolate market. (The "plug" was the blob of chocolate chew oozing from your mouth.) The idea was that the bar could be snacked on in intervals and stuffed in a back pocket without melting. The idea was not a good one. It lasted a year.

14. Mr. Bones

Fleer resurrected this 1970s offering for Halloween 1993: interlocking pieces of hard candy that could be assembled to make a skeleton. But not all of the necessary pieces were in each coffin-shaped package, meaning you might need to buy more than one.

15. Garbage Can-dy

What kid doesn’t like to pretend to eat trash? Topps issued this plastic garbage can stuffed with candy shaped bottles, old boots, tin cans, and fish bones in different fruit flavors. The waste bin-themed offering didn’t last long, but Topps persevered: not long after, they introduced the Garbage Pail Kids.   

Hungry for more candy archaeology? Head on over to CollectingCandy.com.

All images courtesy of Jason Liebig.

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15 Things You Didn’t Know Could Be Tiny
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It’s a secret dollhouse makers have known for ages: From bathrooms to dinosaurs, everything is cuter in miniature. Here are 15 things you didn’t know came pocket-sized. 

1. GALAXIES

Compared to a human being, they’re huge. But the dwarf galaxies nestled into pockets of our universe are puny for star formations; some are only 1/100th the size of our Milky Way. Astronomers believe that there are more dwarf galaxies than any other kind, but they’re often hard to spot because of their size.

2. TRAINING FACILITIES 

For four decades, the United States Secret Service trained staff using a state-of-the-art strategic program called Tiny Town. Tiny Town was exactly what it sounds like: a miniature model town complete with buildings, cars, and streets. The environment included an airport, stadium, and a hotel, and allowed agents in training to solve simulated security threats in a 3-D environment. Sadly but understandably, Tiny Town was retired in 2011 in favor of a virtual model.

3. DINOSAURS 

Measuring as long as a school bus and weighing in at nine tons, Tyrannosaurus rex was indeed a whopper. Its ancestors, on the other hand, were pretty teeny. Forty million years before T. rex stomped onto the scene, Raptorex kriegsteini reigned supreme. Paleontologists say the wee dinosaur (which maxed out at 150 pounds) was a near-perfect copy of its famous descendant—just 100 times smaller. 

4. BATHROOMS 

They may look like wrinkly fingers with teeth, but naked mole rats (Heterocephalus glaber) have got things figured out. Each colony lives in its own underground complex, complete with specialized rooms. There’s a pantry for storing food, a nursery for raising pups, and, yes, a little tiny bathroom. With up to 300 mole rats per colony, separating these chambers helps keep the place safe and sanitary for all its ugly-cute residents. 

5. COOKING SHOWS 

Leave it to the Japanese to create the cutest cooking show in the world. A group of miniature enthusiasts (that’s people who love miniatures, not tiny, happy people) have assembled a sizable collection of dollhouse-scale kitchen supplies. Each mini episode of the show features a pair of anonymous hands using tiny pots, pitchers, spatulas, and stoves to prepare itsy bitsy versions of real meals. The knives are sharp, the fire is real, and the food looks delicious. 

6. TURKEYS 

Even the herbivores among us can enjoy a good bird this holiday season with tiny turkey cake pops. The latest delight from a creative baker in New York City, the realistic-looking teeny turkeys are made of lemon cake, strawberry frosting, and fondant. To give the “skin” that oven-roasted color, the baker glazes the little desserts with a mixture of vodka and gel food coloring.

7. JELLYFISH 

Scientists were startled to discover that a common type of parasite is actually a very, very, very small jellyfish. The microscopic organisms called myxozoans are so primitive that, for a long time, biologists thought they were single-celled organisms. But researchers who sequenced the myxozoans’ genome found that the tiny critters are indeed animals. The myxozoans may not have guts or mouths, but they have nematocysts, or stinging cells—a hallmark of the jellyfish family.

8. HOUSES 

When excess is the norm, some see living with less as a revolutionary act. Members of the Tiny House movement advocate living life on a smaller scale. Tiny houses really are tiny, averaging between 100 and 400 square feet. For obvious reasons, the houses are cheaper to build and maintain than the typical American house. They also necessitate a certain amount of casting off of earthly possessions; there’s only so much stuff you can fit in a cubby-sized kitchen.

9. PARKS 

The smallest park in the world occupies 452 square inches of land in Portland, Oregon. The park was the brainchild of a newspaperman in the 1940s whose office overlooked the traffic median. Sick of looking at a neglected lump of concrete, the journalist took matters into his own hands, pulling weeds and planting flowers. When he was finished, he declared the planter the world’s smallest park. The park would go on to figure prominently in the journalist’s columns, and by the 1950s, he was writing about the leprechaun colony that had taken up residence in his park. 

10. & 11. BIKES AND MOTORCYCLES 

Many of the tiny things on this list testify to the majesty and mystery of nature. But some things, like tiny bikes and motorcycles, are more of a record of human ingenuity (and silliness). No bigger than a shoe, these mini two-wheelers require their riders to crouch like gorillas while maintaining their balance. One performer even incorporates a tiny bike into his circus act, riding it through a hula-hoop-sized ring of fire. 

12. FLOWERS 

You won’t see these flowers growing in a field; in fact, you’ll probably never see them at all—at least, not without a powerful magnifying lens. With some careful tinkering, scientists got barium carbonate crystals to grow into microscopic models of marigolds, violets, and more. This may not sound like a big deal unless you know that crystals are generally rigid structures, developing only in straight lines. Convincing them to blossom was quite a feat.

13. CARS 

As our population expands and more and more people move into urban areas, space and resources are truly at a premium. Gas is expensive, and finding parking in major cities is a huge pain. Enter the tiny car. These two-seaters can fit into even the smallest parking places, and many models are electric, which reduces or totally eliminates the need for gas. With a cute profile and impressive maneuverability, tiny cars perform best on crowded stop-and-go city streets. 

14. HORSES 

When we say horses, we mean horses, not ponies or foals. The record for the world’s smallest horse was set in 2006. The full-grown brown mare, which lives on a farm outside St. Louis, stands only 17.5 inches tall—barely bigger than a beagle.

15. SNAILS 

This past September, scientists declared that they had found the world’s smallest snail. By November, their record had been broken. The largest specimen of the new champion, Acmella nana, reached only 0.027 inches tall and could not be seen without a microscope. The snail’s scientific name is a reference to its diminutive stature; nanus is Latin for “dwarf.” 

You’ll need some tricks up your sleeve in order to incorporate some of these tiny trends into your lifestyle. When cooking in your mini kitchen, for example, a slow cooker might come in handy—head to GEICO More for five surprising things you can cook in your slow cooker.  

With GEICO’s customer service, professionalism is never in short supply. Call a representative now to see how GEICO will fit into your life. 

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15 Holiday Songs from Other Countries to Sing this Year
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Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it’s hard to go anywhere without being bombarded by the same handful of holiday songs. If you’re looking for a new way to spread seasonal cheer, try familiarizing yourself with these songs sung around the world. Here are 15 songs and carols to add some international flair to your holiday festivities. 

1. “PETIT PAPA NOEL” // FRANCE 

“Petit Papa Noel” or “Little Father Christmas” is a Christmas favorite in France. The song is told from the perspective of a child anxiously awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. In addition to having presents on the brain, the narrator also seems very concerned about making sure Santa stays warm: 

Mais avant de partir (But before you leave)

Il faudra bien te couvrir (Be sure to cover yourself well)

Dehors tu vas avoir si froid (You’ll be very cold outside.)

C’est un peu à cause de moi. (That’s kind of my fault.) 

2. “LA FIESTA DE PILITO” // PUERTO RICO 

Every holiday playlist could use more salsa music. “La Fiesta de Pilito” or “Pilito’s Party” by the Puerto Rican band El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico focuses on the most important part of the season: the party food. 

3. “DORMI, DORMI, BEL BAMBINO” // ITALY 

Most things sound better in Italian, and that includes Christmas carols. “Dormi, Dormi, Bel Bambino” or “Sleep, Sleep, Beautiful Child” can be sung as a classic Christmas hymn as well as a lovely lullaby. 

4. “SNOW CANDY” // SOUTH KOREA 

When it comes to cheesy holiday pop songs, the Koreans may have us beat. “Snow Candy” by the K-Pop group Starship Planet is an upbeat love song that’s as sugary-sweet as the name suggests, and with just enough seasonal references to make it a perfect fit for the holidays. 

5. “MI BURRITO SABANERO” // VENEZUELA 

The burrito in this song refers to a little donkey on its way to Bethlehem (not a tortilla filled with rice and beans). Even if you don’t understand Spanish, it’s hard not to smile while repeating the words “tuqui, tuqui” over and over again. 

6. “BETELEHEMU” // NIGERIA 

This Yoruba Christmas song was written by the Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji. Today the uplifting hymn is performed by choirs across the world during the Christmas season, and is often accompanied by drumming and choreography. 

7. “TALJ, TALJ” // LEBANON 

Lebanon isn’t exactly known for its snowy winters, but that didn’t stop snow from becoming the subject one of the country’s most beloved holiday tunes. Popularized by the iconic Lebanese singer Fairuz, the title translates to “Snow, Snow.”

8. “FUM, FUM, FUM” // CATALONIA

Originally written in the Catalan language native to the northeastern region of Spain, the classic song is now sung in different languages around the globe. No matter where it’s being performed, the catchy fum, fum, fum sound—meant to mimic the strumming of a stringed instrument like a guitar—never changes. 

9. “ANG PASKO AY SUMAPIT” // PHILIPPINES 

This Filipino favorite is a great Christmas song to dance to, no matter what part of the world you live in. In addition to its energetic melody, “Ang Paso Ay Sumapit,” or “Christmas Has Arrived,” emphasizes what’s really important around the holidays: 

Tayo ay magmahalan (Let us all love one another)

Ating sundin ang gintong aral (Let's follow the golden rule)

At magbuhat ngayon (And from now on)

Kahit hindi Pasko ay magbigayan! (Even when it's not Christmas, let's share!) 

10. “LASST UNS FROH UND MUNTER SEIN” // GERMANY 

Even if you didn’t know the title of this song means “Let Us Be Happy and Cheerful,” it’s hard to listen to it without feeling warm and fuzzy inside. This carol is traditionally sung on Nicholas Eve, December 5. 

11. “LOS PECES EN EL RIO” // SPAIN, LATIN AMERICA 

If you’re looking for a different take on the story of Jesus’s birth, this classic Spanish carol places the focus on some nearby fish. The titular “fish in the river” apparently express their excitement over the big event by drinking a lot of water. 

12. “MUSEVISA” // NORWAY 

“The Mouse Song” tells the story of a family of mice celebrating the holidays, which would sound pretty fun if they weren’t living in constant fear of getting caught in a mousetrap. Maybe this song is better enjoyed if you don’t understand the lyrics. 

13. “IMPODOBESTE MAMA BRADUL” // ROMANIA 

This contemporary Christmas song from the Romanian pop star Fuego means “Mother Adorns the Tree.” And if you can’t understand what Fuego is singing about, his music video unfortunately doesn’t add much clarity. 

14. “RAVEN RASKAR OVER ISEN” // SWEDEN 

This seasonal Swedish song, which means “the fox runs across the ice,” is traditionally performed as a singing game while dancing around the Christmas tree.

15. “THE WEXFORD CAROL” // IRELAND 

The “Wexford Carol” is a traditional Irish Christmas song dating back to the 12th century. English speakers—with Irish heritage or otherwise—should have little trouble singing along with this ancient folk tune. 

Your friends and family will undoubtedly love adding these global carols to their holiday playlists. For more ways to spend quality time with loved ones this holiday season, head to GEICO More.  

This holiday season and beyond, GEICO’s reliable customer service will make you want to sing its praises to the rooftops. 

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